Pleas for leniency for three young thieves

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1913 Police Court

At the Scarborough Police Court today, before the Mayor ( AM Daniel), and other magistrates, Mr C Royle, solicitor, made a strong appeal to the Bench when the three youths who were before the Court charged with breaking into premises and stealing goods.

Their names and the charges against them were:

William Thomas Pickard (17), pork butcher’s assistant, 71, Hampton Road. Thomas Knaggs (14), errand boy, 20, Victoria Street, and Albert Eccles (15), errand boy, 10, Vine Street, were charged with stealing from a shop in Gladstone Road 50 packets of Woodbine cigarettes, and several packets of matches to the value of about 5s, the goods of Wm. Walter Overton.

They were further charged with stealing from the dwelling house, 5, Victoria Street, about 6lbs of plum cake, and other goods to the value of 7s, the goods of Hannah Dunning, and further with stealing from the dwelling, 6, Trafalgar Street West, a number of mince pies and jam tarts, and one bottle of wine, the goods of Harold Oldridge.

Mr Royle, who appeared for Pickard, said the case was a remarkable one in one way. The lads had stolen cigarettes and smoked them, plumcake and ate it, ginger wine and drank it. He did not wish to minimise the lads’ conduct, but probably some of their Worships would not regard it as so serious a matter as if they had robbed a till, or robbed their employers of money.

He asked the Bench seriously to deal with the case in a manner appropriate to that day, and to start as they meant to go on, that they would be merciful. His client, as far as was known, had a clean sheet. He had not been charged with anything before. He (Mr Royle) knew that the magistrates wished to stamp out that sort of thing, but they must remember this: If they sent him to prison it was not a question of merely serving any sentence passed upon him. Here they had a lad upon the threshold of life. If he was sent to prison, and came out feeling that he had made a great mistake, he would have to carry this with him for the remainder of his life.

On the application of the Chief Constable (Mr W Basham) the charges were reduced from breaking and entering to simple larceny.

It appeared, from the evidence, that at the back of Knaggs’ home there is a hut, and he pleaded so much with his parents for them to put a bed in there so that he could have a friend of two over to stay, and they could stop there – a sort of camping out arrangement (and where the food and drink was consumed) – that the parents at last agreed.

In the case of stealing from Overton’s shop, it appeared an entry had been effected by the lads cutting a piece of wood out of the rear of the shop window. The lads, however, denied taking any notepaper, and that charge was dropped. Pickard said they took 46 packets of cigarettes not 50.

In the course of the evidence it was stated that Pickard, after being detained with Knaggs, at the Police Office, had told Detective Inspector Nawton that he, Knaggs, and Eccles had broken into the premises. Knaggs said that he and Eccles threw a bottle into a field in Cemetery Road.

When PC Shepherd had seen Knaggs about the stealing of plumcake the lad had said that he knew nothing about it.

The mothers of the ladies spoke on their behalf. Pickard’s mother said her son was the eldest of six. Eccles’ mother is a widow. One of the parents remarked that her lad had plenty of plumcake.

The Chief Constable: He had! (laughter).

Proceeding, witness said that the lad could have had plenty at home.

Mrs Knaggs was asked why she kept a full-sized bed in the hut.

Mrs Knaggs said that she kept it for use in the summer, and her son pleaded with her to let it be put in there.

Finally, after considering some time in private, the magistrates remanded Pickard for a week with a view to his 
entering the Army.

The other youths were sent to a reformatory ship.